Syrian army source: US attack on Syria would justify retaliation against Israel

Iran also warns against explosive repercussions of strike.

Syrian soldiers near Damascus 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian soldiers near Damascus 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria and Iran on Tuesday threatened to attack Israel in retaliation for any Western military action, with some reports indicating strikes against the regime could begin later this week.
A senior Syrian army source told Iran’s Fars News Agency on Tuesday that a full-scale US attack on Syria would justify an attack on the Jewish state.
“If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a license for attacking Israel,” the Syrian army source said.
“If Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors,” he added. “Thus, a US attack on Syria will herald frequent strikes and attacks on Israel, not just by Damascus and its allies in retaliation, but by extremist groups.”
Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to the Iranian parliament speaker, warned the US against military action on Tuesday, saying Syria’s response is “unpredictable.”
“A US attack on Syria is not wise, particularly considering the issue that it would happen in a region that is like a powder keg, and Syria’s reaction to the air strike by the US or NATO is unpredictable,” Sheikholeslam told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency on Tuesday.
He also said that air attacks would not be enough and that a ground invasion would be risky.
Esmaeil Kowsari, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee told Tasnim that US action against Syria would create more problems for Israel.
“If the US would make [an antagonist] move against Syria... the Zionist regime’s problems will be doubled,” he said.
Several high-ranking Hezbollah officials told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on Tuesday that they warned against Western intervention and that it could cause a full-scale regional war, as quoted by Fars News Agency.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, echoed the warning in a press conference on Tuesday after meeting with UN deputy chief for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman in Tehran over the last two days.
“As regards the possibility of a military strike on Syria, he [Feltman] was frankly told that any use of military means will have dire consequences not only for Syria, but for the entire region,” he said.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini said on Monday during a meeting with Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman in Tehran that Israel threatens the entire region. “The corrupt Zionist regime, which has a highly dangerous huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, is a serious threat to the region.
“The region needs security for all the people. And this goal will be achieved only through the effective prohibition of weapons of mass destruction,” he stated.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem denied on Tuesday at a press conference that Syria used chemical weapons and that Syria’s military operations would continue regardless of a Western attack, according to a report by the Syrian state news agency SANA.
“I assure the residents of Damascus that the objective of the Armed Forces’ military efforts taking place currently is to ensure their safety, so the endeavor will not be halted, and they [the West and the US] will not limit the Army’s victory,” the foreign minister said.
Mouallem said that Israel was behind the US decision not to seek a political solution.
It is clear, he said, “that Israel does not want this solution, but rather it wants the continuation of violence and terrorism.”
Mouallem said that Syria has cooperated with the UN investigation into the chemical weapons allegations and that they were “categorically baseless.”
“We have agreed to offer all facilitations and to ensure the safety of the UN inspection mission into chemical weapons use,” he said adding that it was terrorists that shot at the inspectors and disrupting their work.
The Arab League squarely blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday for a gas attack near Damascus and urged the UN Security Council to act.
The Arab League’s statement, issued after an emergency meeting, made no mention of military action.
But it accused Assad of genocide and demanded, in unusually strong language, that the perpetrators of last week’s poison gas attack, in which hundreds of civilians were killed, face justice.
The Arab League holds Syria “fully responsible for the ugly crime and demands that all the perpetrators of this heinous crime be presented for international trials,” the statement said.
It also called on UN Security Council members to overcome their differences and take “the necessary resolutions against the perpetrators of this crime.”
Russia and China have vetoed measures against Assad in the Council over the past two years. Russia in particular argued that Western powers abused a resolution in 2011 to justify military action to help topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – action that was endorsed by the Arab League.
Diplomatic sources said the Arab League statement had been pushed through by the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in the knowledge that air strikes were being discussed.
The two countries have been among the most ardent backers of Syria’s rebels and have pressed for firmer action against Assad.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal urged the international community on Tuesday to take a “serious and decisive” stand against the Syrian leader.
Syria’s civil war has split the region broadly along sectarian lines. Shi’ite Iran, and its allies in Lebanon and Iraq, have supported Assad. The Gulf Arab states have backed the mainly Sunni rebels, many of whom are Islamist terrorists.
Iraq and Lebanon, as well as Algeria, withheld their backing for the Arab League statement or parts of it on Tuesday, as they have done in the past.